It was a fun day in the backfields as a prospect laden lineup took the field led by none other than top overall prospect Eloy Jimenez. He did not disappoint.
We will cover extended spring training today as well as the regular action. I will link that to AZ Phil for box score and game recap as well. There is also a photo gallery at the bottom.
- It was a tough day for Iowa pitchers beginning with starter Ryan Williams who wasn't the usual strike throwing groundball machine he has been in the past. He lasted just one inning, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk. He also struck out 3.
- Jack Leathersich's control problems don't seem to be getting any better. He missed some time this spring and it's difficult to know if he's just rusty or if there is some underlying issue. He walked 5 more batters in just 2/3 of an inning, though he escaped with just one run allowed.
- Felix Pena continues to pitch well and he remains a legitimate depth option for a bullpen in Chicago that is struggling right now. He retired all 5 batters he faced, 3 via strikeout and has yet to allow an earned run this season in 5.2 innings. He has struck out 9 batters, though he has walked 4. If he can pitch with the kind of control he did today, however, then he is someone we may see again at some point this season.
- David Rollins is off to a solid start but he allowed the game winner today in the 9th. He fell to 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA.
- It was a HR fest today at Iowa but it did not include Ian Happ today. The top of the order was also a big factor. Bijan Rademacher took John Andreoli's spot at the top of the order and filled his shoes pretty well. He singled, drew a walk, and scored twice.
- Chesny Young seems to have his mojo back. He went 3 for 5 and is now 7 for his last 12 to raise his average to .279. He also walked.
- While all eyes are on Happ, Jeimer Candelario continues to produce at a blistering pace of his own. He hit a HR, his 3rd of the year, and drove in 2 to raise his season RBI total to 18. His OPS is now at 1.999. That's pretty good. Here is his opposite field HR...
- Victor Caratini hit his 2nd HR and it was a grand slam. He also singled and drove in 5 overall on the game. On a normal team, his 9 RBI might rank first, but on the Iowa Cubs, it ranks 3rd.
- It's been a bit of a rough start for Mark Zagunis but maybe his 2-run HR today will get him on track, It was his first HR and he is hitting just .114 to start the season. He does continue to draw walks and has 7, but he has also struck out at an unusually high rate, especially for him. He has K'd 13 times in 10 game so far.
- Zach Hedges got his first win of the season. He got 4 runs of support early and then shutout Birmingham for 5.2 innings. He walked one and struck out 2.
- The bullpen preserved the shutout with scoreless performances from Brad Markey (1.1 IP, 1 H, 1BB), Ryan McNeil (1.1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). and Stephen Perakslis (1 IP, 1 BB, 2 Ks).
- Have you boarded the Charcer Burks train yet? The 22 year old RH hitting OFer has been filling in in CF and has gotten off to a hot start after an impressive spring training. He collected two more hits today, one a double, scored in a run, and drove in one as well. He also stole his third base of the season.
- Putting Jeffery Baez in the 2nd spot gives the Smokies a lot of speed at the top of their lineup and Baez did capitalize on that role by stealing his 2nd base. He also went 2 for 4.
- Aside from the top of the order, the Smokies also got good production from the bottom as well. Jason Vosler went 2 for 4 with a double and scored a run.
- SS Carlos Penalver tripled, singled, scored, and drove in a run. Penalver went the opposite way into the RF gap for his triple...
- Roberto Caro was in that "second leadoff spot" batting 9th and the fleet outfielder set the tone for the top of the order with a single, walk, RBI, run, and his first SB of the year.
- It was the same story for Thomas Hatch as he breezed through 4 innings and then ran into some trouble in the 5th. Two walks to start the 5th got him into trouble right away. He struck out the next batter but then allowed a single to load the bases with one out. He would eventually allow 3 runs in that inning but this time the story had an unfotunate twist, Hatch had to leave the game after being struck on the right side of his head near his ear on a line drive by Kyle Tucker. He did get up on his own and appeared to be OK as the team checked on him, but he was taken out of the game, hopefully as a precaution but there is certainly the possibility of a concussion and you never, ever take a chance with head injuries, so the Pelicans wisely removed him from the game to get checked out further.
- The Pelicans bullpen came through with another strong performance from hard-throwing Craig Brooks, who continues to pitch well after a good spring. He pitched 2.1 more hitless/scoreless innings, walking one and striking out 3. The aggresssive RHP's improvement has been directly related with better consistency in the strike zone. He has walked 3 in 7.2 innings while allowing just 2 hits and striking out 11.
- Another hard-throwing RHP, James Norwood, has taken a more pitch-to-contact approach this year and that was the case again in that he went 2.1 scoreless innings, walking one and not allowing a run. He did not strikeout a batter and has struck out 2 in 6 IP this year.
- Trent Giambrone is a versatile infielder with a good approach and a short, quick stroke at the plate. He hit his 2nd HR of the season today. a solo shot that was his only hit in this game.
- PJ Higgins looked to be getting on track the last few games and he went 2 for 2 with a double and a run scored. However, he had to leave the game on a mysterious play in that it was hard to tell exactly how he got hurt. Higgins went to make a swipe tag on a sac fly play at the plate and although there didn't appear to be contact, he injured his left leg on the play. It's possible he got his cleats caught or just strained a muscle when stretching and turning. Whatever the case, he did want to stay in the game and walked off on his own power, so those are good signs.
- Eddy Martinez singled and drove in a run but he has been off to a slow start overall, hitting just .175 to start the season.
- Daniel Spingola has picked up some of that offensive slack and he continued his hot start with 2 for 3 day with a walk, He is hitting .333/.463/.545 in his first 12 games.
- It was the Millers on the mound today for South Bend. It was Tyson Miller who got the start and as we have mentioned he has pitched well and seemingly gets a little better with each start. That was not the case today as Miller allowed 4 runs in 5 innings -- though 3 of them came on one swing by Dodgers prospect Luis Paz. Miller was able to stop the bleeding from there as his teammates stayed within a run, but just could not close the gap.
- Swingman Kyle Miller filled in with 2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out one.
- Chad Hockin got the first two outs in the 8th but a walk, an error, and then a single led to an insurance run which turned out to be crucial. The run was unearned and Hockin has yet to allow an earned run in 5 innings of work this year. He has struck out 2 and walked 7.
- Zack Short continues to thrive in the leadoff spot and he contributed in a non-traditional way for leadoff hitters today, hitting a solo HR to start the game. The HR came off of a pretty good prospect in Jordan Sheffield (the #7 prospect in the Dodgers system) and it was struck well, landing on the concourse well beyond the fence in LF. Short also walked.
- Wladimir Galindo also had some success against Sheffield with a double and a single. He went 3 for 4 and has upped his average to .286 after a slow start. Then again, this whole team got off to a slow start this year so we can really say that about every player.
- South Bend scored two more runs in the 3rd when Yeiler Peguero (2 for 4, run, RBI) was driven in by DJ Wilson's triple deep into the RF-CF gap. For some reason teams keep playing shallow for Wilson. Have they seen him hit? Wilson would later score on a balk and also walked and stole a base.
- Thanks to Phil for the box score as the Cubs took on the Giants "Orange" team. The Giants, like the Cubs, have a lot of prospects in camp but unlike the Cubs, they have chosen to make two teams instead of one. For details on how each player did and a recap of the game, clink on the link above.
- Jesus Camargo made a start after missing all of last season. Camargo's best pitch is his change up but he is looking to become more assertive with his 88-92 mph FB. He pitched a scoreless inning today.
- Tyler Peyton is an interesting prospect if you like sleepers. Peyton was a two way athlete who slipped in the draft. The Cubs snatched him up in the 29th round and are developing him as a pitcher. He has good size (listed at 6'3", 200 lbs) and was throwing 92-93 mph today, though I saw him at a tick or two higher than that last fall. He also has the makings of a good breaking ball and change, though both still need some refining. Peyton is a good athlete who repeats well and has good balance on his delivery. There are certainly some tools and skills to work with here. He pitched two scoreless innings, struck out 3, and did not walk a batter.
- Holden Cammack features a rather quirky delivery and a FB that is consistently in the 92 mph range.
- I saw Yapson Gomez at 92-94 last year but he has been more 89-91 so far this spring. He'll mix in a big breaking curve and generally throws strikes.
- Jacob Hannemann looks like he is getting closer and closer. He had two hard hit doubles on the day.
- The star of the day is Eloy Jimenez who showed off his tremendous strength when he pulled his hands in, got his bat broken....and still hit it over the LFers head for a double. It very nearly left the yard. That is some kind of strong. Jimenez didn't get a whole lot to hit today as there was a combination of the Giants pitchers working around him and simply being a bit wild at times.
- Chris Dominguez continues to rake down here and I cannot imagine he'll be here much longer, He went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk.
- I called Jimenez the star but the best player in this game was catcher Miguel Amaya. The 18 year old hit a 2 run HR and threw out 4 baserunners in his 5 innings of work. Amaya does not have a lot of experience yet, but he is already one of the Cubs top catching prospects.
- Rafael Mejia has good raw power and strong hands. He even won the spring HR derby this year...but he has not had as much success in games this year. He did seem to make an adjustment in his last AB and ripped a double for his only hit.
- Aramis Ademan had a solid all-around game with a single, walk, SB, and a couple of nice plays in the field to his right.
- Orian Nunez is a solid hitting prospect with a surprisingly polished bat for his age that has some pop. He showed some of it today on a line drive double to the RF-CF gap to drive in two Nunez, 18, spent last season in the DSL.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap